C. inornatus (left) and C. tigris (right), which hybridize naturally to form C. neomexicanus (centre)
Photograph by Alistair J. Cullum. Via Wikimedia Commons
Or that's what they would have their non-fundamentalist victims believe anyway.
Similarly, it's merely a coincidence that proponents of IDT are invariable against same-sex relationships and agree with the the Bible that homosexuality is a mortal sin. And it's naturally no coincidence that the god of the Christian Bible agrees with IDTists because the Bible is science and what they are dealing with is science, not religion at all... isn't it?
So, what's all this about lesbian lizards? Doesn't the creator hate homosexuality?
Let's look at the facts:
The so-called New Mexico whiptail lizard (Cnemidophorus neomexicanus) is one of about 50 reptiles that normally breed parthenogenically (i.e. without mating) to produce clones of themselves. All these lizards are female. In fact, although parthenogenesis is the normal way of producing new C. neomexicanus there is one less common way. It's the way the first ones were formed - by two other species mating to produce a hybrid. Genetics has shown that C. neomexicanus arose, and still arises occasionally, when the two bisexual species, the little striped whiptail (C. inornatus) and the western whiptail (C. tigris), which have overlapping ranges, mate naturally.
So, what's this, creationists? Here is a new species which can arise by a simple mating between two other species! That's the thing that you're supposed to believe is impossible because some mysterious, unspecified, process related to the laws of thermodynamics makes it impossible. Reguar readers may remember me writing about the edible frog (Pelophylax kl. esculentus) which can only breed with difficulty with members of its own species and so females needs to mate with a member of another species, usually the pool frog (P. lessonae) or sometimes the marsh frog (P. ridibundus) to get more edible frogs. I don't recall seeing how that fact fitted in with a creationist claim that it's impossible either.
But our little whiptail lizard from New Mexico doesn't even need to mate with members of another species because, unlike edible frogs, but just like many other lizards, many of which have also arisen by hybridization, it doesn't need to mate at all. It simply lays fertile eggs which contain a full set of its genes and which hatch out into identical clones of itself.
|C. neomexicnus mating.|
Frankly, this looks superficially like a bit of a paradox for evolutionary biologists because the usual reason given for sexual reproduction having evolved and being the 'normal' mode of reproduction in the vast majority of multicellular animals is that the ensuing genetic mixing increases the likelihood of a beneficial mutation arising and ensures genetic diversity is maintained, so enabling the species to adapt more readily to a changing environment. So why then does clonal parthenogenesis seem to arise in some orders?
The answer seems to be that this mode of reproduction enables a parthenogenic species to move into a new range very quickly from a single individual. In bisexual species, one of each sex has to come into contact at the right time in the new range for a population to get started. It has often been noted that parthenogenesis is more often to be found in unusual or 'difficult' environments. And of course, we don't know if species such as the New Mexico whiptail would last long in evolutionary terms if the population isn't continually renewed through new hybridization. Some species are known to have several gene lines, indicating that each is derived from a new hybridization event.
A review of our current knowledge of teioid unisexuals and their hybrid origins is provided. Also, a reevaluation of teiine chromosomal evolution is presented from a phylogenetic perspective. These reviews elucidate the paradox that the capability of instantly producing parthenogenetic clones through one generation of hybridization has existed for approximately 200 million years, yet the extant unisexual taxa are of very recent origins. Consequently, these lineages must be ephemeral compared to those of bisexual taxa.
Phylogenetic Relationships of Whiptail Lizards of the Genus Cnemidophorus (Squamata: Teiidae):
A Test of Monophyly, Reevaluation of Karyotypic Evolution, and Review of Hybrid Origins.
Tod W. Reeder, Charles J. Cole & Herbert C. Dessauer.
The American Museum of Natural History, Number 3365, May 17, 2002
So, we know that the ability of these taxa to instantly produce a unisexual clonal species in a single generation has been around for 200 million years, and yet we know that all the known unisexual species are recent in origins. This suggests a short-term success but long-term lack of evolutionary viability, so there is actually no paradox in the detail. Rather, the facts appear to bear out the idea that sexual reproduction is the more successful strategy notwithstanding that parthenogenesis can give relatively stable short-term success.
So, no problem there for evolutionary science which understands that genes don't have moral scruples or conscious thought of any kind, let alone planning and forethought. However, given the invariably literal interpretation of the Christian Bible by creationists, even those who claim their creationism has nothing to do with religion and is all good, sound science which just happens to be fully in accord with the Bible, how does this all fit in please? Doesn't the god in the Bible supposedly abhor homosexuality, finding the act so abominable that people who do it deserve to be killed? - (Leviticus 20:13)
And didn't the god in the Bible supposedly create all the animals, including the lesbian whiptail lizard from New Mexico? - (Genesis 1:24)
Any creationist with the courage to explain all this and how it fits in the the 'science' of 'Intelligent Design Theory'? Does this god enjoy a bit of casual perving, maybe?